Does Your Lifestyle Match Your Income?

Why work? It pays the rent or mortgage, puts food on the table and money in your pocket. If that’s your only answer then ANY job you can get that you are qualified to do would perhaps fulfill your needs. Okay maybe not an entry-level part-time job in Retail would give you enough money to pay the rent or mortgage, but it’s more than no job at all. And if a job is only a means to pay rent or a mortgage, would you move into cheaper accommodations just so you could pay these bills? Maybe you would and maybe you’d fight it all the way because you don’t want to down-scale.

It would seem prudent to either increase your income to match a desired lifestyle, or failing that, to lower your lifestyle to match what you can afford based on your income. The idea of relocating into cheaper more affordable housing isn’t something most upper-middle and upper class individuals and families readily do. However, it isn’t something those in the middle or lower class usually do willingly either. Hardly anyone you see wants to live in an environment that is in their opinion, worse off than they once were. This is because it’s some kind of admission of failure; regression, a public statement that says, “I’m older but I’m worse off”. And aren’t we supposed to be accumulating more, living better, getting more out of life, ‘moving on up’ as the song goes?

So think for a moment; if you lost your job today, how long would you give yourself to find a similar income before you down-sized or down-scaled, in order to live in a more sustainable world? Would you sell that second car, the cottage, the motorcycle that’s fun but not practical, go from a four bedroom home to a two bedroom apartment now that the kids have moved out? Would your pride keep you from sharing this news as long as possible with your friends and family? Sharing that news and what you are contemplating with people may help generate new ideas, new job possibilities, and options you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.

It is once again our old friend, ‘Self-Esteem’ that is really at risk of being unsettled in this process. One’s self-image and concern over how others will view us and see us as successful or a failure is an issue. So sometimes when out of work, people will continue to live the lifestyle they did when they had that secure ongoing income, for fear of losing the contacts, the friends and the social engagements that go with them. This can result in more debt; accumulated quicker than if they had scaled back things earlier, and pretty risky behaviours to try to obtain money to maintain the lifestyle by engaging in quick-money schemes, gambles and sometimes criminal behaviour. The odds aren’t in their favour, but the lure of quick money is irresistible. Even buying lottery tickets in large numbers is a seemingly innocent first step to this unhealthy practice.

Consider however that scaling down, de-cluttering your home, and in some cases, moving from high rent to lower rent is exactly the right thing to do if you could just get over that pride thing and see things objectively. Going from $1800 a month in rent to $1150 and changing the area in which you live might be good advice. Without knowing individual circumstances it isn’t possible to say if it’s right for you personally. If you owned a vehicle but could get by with public transportation and just rent a car for the weekend every now and then, maybe selling your car would be a prudent move too. No more insurance, no gas, no repairs, and you might be able to rent out your garage or parking spot for extra income on top of it all to pay for your public transportation monthly. So now you could get around for free every month, and might even get healthier as a result of the walking.

If you need to take a step back; big or small as it may be, in the end you might find that this allows you to reduce some mental stress, and that is hard to put a price on. Then you realize that you don’t need as high a salary as you once did, and that can open up new possibilities because you couldn’t consider jobs with lower incomes before. This strategy isn’t for everyone, but don’t make the mistake of assuming immediately it’s not for you but for everybody else. Maybe, just maybe, this advice is meant for you personally.


2 thoughts on “Does Your Lifestyle Match Your Income?

  1. Good advice. Hard to implement, but definitely necessary. The big challenge comes, though, when you’ve been happily living small on tiny salaries (a la my teacher hubby and my part-time teacher self) and realize that that won’t even cut the mustard with a kiddo in the picture. I now wish I had some big lifestyle downgrades I could do! Alas. But even when you’ve been living small, there are still cuts that can be made, and this article is helpful in reminding me of that.


    1. Good day Rebecca. My goodness you sound like a very wise person and your hubby is lucky to have you! As I wrote this I wondered how many would reply with annoyance at getting a suggestion to downsize their lifestyle vs. those like you that would find the suggestion a helpful reminder. I myself only have one daughter, and although she’s now mid-twenties, they do cost a lot don’t they! You’re thrilled when you don’t have to buy diapers and pay day care and then just when you think you’ll sock away some money there’s sports, teeth, trips, fashion, University and right now she’s house hunting and eyeing my bank account again! Still I love it. Thanks for the feedback as always. Kelly


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